Entry Title: "Global City"
Name: Marcus Yam , United States
Category and Expertise: Photo Essay and Feature Story|Other_S|Deeper Perspective, Professional


Entry Description: In just a few generations, Seattle has grown from a pioneer settlement to the largest metropolitan area in the Pacific Northwest. As the city named after Chief Sealth looks forward to its place on the world stage of technology and trade, it also looks to its past, considering which parts of its identity it is willing to sacrifice – if any – in order to become a truly global city. These are triple-exposures made in-camera to fuse together ideals, metaphors, past, present, and future in an appropriate format that illustrates themes of ambivalence, rapid change, growth, identity crisis, isolation, moxie and entrepreneurialism.

Story: Over just a few generations, Seattle has grown from a pioneer settlement to the largest metropolitan area in the Pacific Northwest. As the city named after Chief Sealth looks forward to its place on the world stage of technology and trade, it also looks to its past, considering which parts of its identity it is willing to sacrifice – if any – in order to become a truly global city. Seattle is my new home. So when I was commissioned to create a conceptual essay about the city of Seattle’s pursuit of becoming a global city, I had to figure out a way to fuse together the concepts of visualizing concepts, ideals, metaphors, ambitions, past, present, and future. I am a photojournalist by trade. I strive to document and capture every moment as poignant as possible, weaving as much narrative and framing as much context as into one single picture as effectively possible. How do I illustrate Seattle’s identity as “Jet City?” Or urban development? Or the cause and effect of the technological revolution? Or even urban disparities? I could not see how moment-to moment documentary reportage told a complete story. After much deliberation, I decided that multiple exposures (triple) was the most appropriate format to illustrate the themes of ambivalence, rapid change, growth, identity crisis, isolation, moxie and entrepreneurialism. So why triple exposures? It's a three pronged approach: In each exposure, I find elements that help contextualize my thought process: 1: a global city requirement, 2: a Seattle hook and 3: a metaphor to connect the first two elements. These images are made using a multiple exposure function on a 5D Mark III camera, that allows me to combine 3 exposures in-camera producing one final image. In theory, in each exposure of an object, a scene, a detail or a moment allows me to extract a meaning, metaphor, or mood to help put it in context of the final exposure. The beauty of this visual approach is that each multiple exposed image is subject to individual interpretation. The concept of multiple exposures is not new. It dates all the way back to Eadweard Muybridge. Many photographers have delved into it and have created some inspirational work. I only hope create something relevant and significant to the region and its people, to reconnect Seattle-ites to “Lesser Seattle,” a term coined by Emmett Watson, that sense that we live in a small big town, is being buried under the footprint of an ever-expanding population and building boom. The world is in our view, but as we invite more people and ideas, we wonder if we risk losing the ties that bind us – our sense that we are special people in a special place.

About the Artist:

Marcus Yam is a curious and contemplative photographer. Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, he is culturally and socially uninhibited, guided and inspired by Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken." In 2006, he left a career in Aerospace Engineering to pursue a photographic life. The themes of his work revolve around the social issues and the dichotomies that shape the American experience: provincialism, marginalization, poverty, capitalism, immigration, citizenship, faith and contradictions. Marcus is currently a Visual Journalist for the Los Angeles Times. From 2010 to 2013, Marcus was based in New York and worked as a regular contributor to The New York Times. His most notable work includes his contributions to The Times's three-part multimedia series, "Punched Out: The Life and Death of a Hockey Enforcer," and "A Year At War," a Times series that included his feature short film, "The Home Front," which have earned him numerous accolades, including an Emmy Award, a World Press Photo multimedia grand prize, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, a Pictures of the Year International Multimedia Award and a DART Award for Trauma Coverage. His ideas and approach to photography are constantly evolving. But it’s the pursuit and relationships that makes it all worthwhile. Cameras aside, he enjoys funky dancing, listening to post-rock music, taking long walks, contemplating life in a Mobius strip and living a simple nomadic life.